The Anatomical Organization of the Primate Auditory Pathways

  • Norman L. Strominger
Part of the Advances in Primatology book series (AIPR)


The mammalian auditory pathway consists of several nuclear complexes and interconnecting fiber tracts extending between the receptors located in the cochlea and the cerebral cortex. Bipolar perikarya of the primary neurons form the spiral ganglion and are part of the peripheral nervous system. Well-defined nuclei in the central nervous system include the cochlear nuclei, superior olivary complex, ventral nucleus of the lateral lemniscus, dorsal nucleus of the lateral lemniscus, inferior colliculus, medial geniculate body, and the auditory areas of the cerebral cortex. There are more nuclei in the auditory system and the pathway is more complicated than in other sensory systems. There also is an additional mandatory synapse in the auditory pathway of nonprimates and of primates at least through the phylogenetic level of Macaca mulatta; a minimum of four neurons, rather than three as in other sensory pathways, constitute the chain from the periphery to the cerebral cortex for most mammals. A common explanation for the unusual nature of the auditory pathway is based upon the late development of hearing in phylogenesis. Because of this, the auditory pathway presumably incorporated scattered structures which still were modifiable in what already had become a relatively stable nervous system. Another reason concerns the nature of audition itself. Hearing involves the analyses of such diverse functions as intensity, frequency, pattern, distance, direction, etc., and may perforce require a more complex pathway than other sensory systems.


Auditory Cortex Inferior Colliculus Superior Temporal Gyrus Cochlear Nucleus Auditory Pathway 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • Norman L. Strominger
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnatomyAlbany Medical College of Union UniversityAlbanyUSA

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